Microsoft launches $200M .NET effort

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Microsoft Corp. last month launched a $200 million ad campaign for .NET, marking its first global effort to promote enterprise software that corporations can use to connect employees, customers and business partners.

The TV and print campaign, with a tagline "One Degree of Separation," was developed by Microsoft’s agency of record, McCann-Erickson Worldwide Inc., San Francisco. It is a continuation of Microsoft’s "Software for the Agile Business" campaign, also developed by McCann, although this is the first ad campaign that introduces .NET as a business platform.

"One Degree of Separation" means businesses need software that enables them to be one step away from information that is needed by partners and customers.

"It’s the ultimate level of agility," said Michael McLaren, exec VP at McCann-Erickson San Francisco.

Betting on Web services

The .NET product line, which Microsoft introduced last year, includes the .NET Enterprise server, Microsoft mobile information server and Visual Studio .NET, a tool for building and deploying XML Web services and applications. Other .NET components may be added, all part of Microsoft’s vision of creating software and applications for a connected world.

"This is our big bet," said Michael Delman, general manager-advertising for Microsoft, referring to the .NET marketing effort.

"We believe passionately in Web services and in how much more productive people can be using personal computing in a connected environment," he said. Communicating that message "is job No. 1 for the company."

The campaign includes four TV spots and a print campaign in general business publications and trade magazines such as ABA Banking Journal, Health Management Technology and Design News. They will run in the U.S., Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

"The whole agility proposition is that to survive and thrive in this environment, you have to be agile to succeed," McLaren said. "Agility remains Microsoft’s core value proposition. The new phase [of the campaign] is that we’re moving into a world of connected everything. By creating Web services, you can create new business opportunities and new relationships."

Connections emphasized

The TV spots focus on the benefits of using Web services to connect employees, customers and business partners, with one side of the screen telling the application story and the other side relating the IT story.

For example, in a spot called "Red," the side labeled "Desire" shows a couple in a car dealership ordering a red sports car. The other side, labeled "Delivery," shows the manufacturing plant with the car being produced.

When the dealer asks the buyers what color they want, the man says "red," and the dealer clicks on a laptop that’s connected to the manufacturing plant, and the jets start spraying red paint on the car in production. Then the client changes his mind to black, the dealer clicks on his computer, and the red jets stop. They’re about to change to black, but the buyers decide they want red. The point is to demonstrate the agility of Microsoft software in creating Web services. It’s a real-life example, although the business is not named.

The print ads feature case studies of how actual business customers are using .NET successfully.

For example, one ad shows how Dollar Rent A Car used .NET to link its online booking system to the Southwest Airlines reservations Web site, even though the two use different ordering systems. Since implementing the system, Dollar has seen its revenues increase by nearly $10 million.

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